“Pollution is nothing but the resources we are not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we’ve been ignorant of their value.” Buckminster Fuller
Fossil fuel based air pollution is rich in carbonaceous particulate matter. Anirudh Sharma is a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who had the idea to confine and bind captured pollution into high grade inks that everyone can use and express themselves with through art or writing.
“I had the idea while traveling in India a few years ago, when I was still a grad student at MIT. Some cities were really quite polluted from cars and chimney smoke. In the street, when people would wipe their faces with a handkerchief, it would turn brown or black. So I thought it would be interesting to make ink out of this. Actually, in the past, ink was made from soot, notably in China. And it’s precisely soot that cars emit. So in 2013, I started doing some research at MIT.”
The AIR-INK is created through a three-step process: capturing, filtering and making the ink.
- A device called ‘Kaalink‘ is attached to a vehicle’s exhaust pipe to capture the outgoing fossil fuel emitions and pollutants such as heavy metals, oils, etc. The filter captures black carbon soot from the burning of gasoline, diesel, and other fuels. Each Kaalink is reusable and allegedly filters “between 85-95%” of soot emissions from a vehicle (Business Insider).
- The collected soot undergoes various processes to remove heavy metals and carcinogens. Finally the recovered soot is taken through a grinding process to bring to a consistent particle size, as good as an ink pigment.
- The carbon is then used to make different types of inks and paints.
It takes just 45 minutes worth of vehicular emissions captured by the filter to produce 1 pen of ink.
And how is it better than regular ink? The process of making Air Ink not only eliminates soot from polluting the air, but it also doesn’t burn extra fossil fuels that making regular ink does.
The generated waste during the process are mainly heavy metals that cannot be used to produce the ink, which they send to a specialised waste management company to sort and recycle them accordingly.
More info at: AirInk Kickstarter campaign